I love the internet. I just was able to watch a show called Hoarders on the internet. I had heard about it before and then reading a news article that a woman died and no one found her in her house where her husband lived with her for four months until her husband finally saw her feet sticking out of a pile of garbage... ugh!
Ok, I am not a hoarder. Nope. Nowhere close. But I keep more than I should occasionally. When I was a kid, I was handed a shoe box on more than one occasion with the instructions to put in it anything I wanted to keep. Obviously, we did not get to keep much. Now I am an adult and have a house full of space. I can hold on to things. At first it was wonderful to have things. Now, well now, I am much more likely to throw things out. Over the years, as I sort through my mental clutter, I've also been sorting through my household clutter. Ah, no, never as bad as the hoarders show. All my stuff can fit in closets and dressers, but why are they so full? I just cleaned out my linen closet and realized I have ten pairs of single sheets. Why? Even if all the members of my household end up with explosive vomiting all in one night, I will still likely be able to keep up with washing and drying fast enough. Even if guests arrive, we can manage without so many sheets. So I began to declutter even more this summer.
I like decluttering. I decluttered my kid's rooms and loved it. I hung special things on the walls and decorated the rooms. I ban them from saving things and make them chant "we don't keep junk" over and over again when they want to keep something "just because". I love my house being clean and organized.
But there are two areas I have not been able to touch. I just can't go there. They've been the way they are since March, and I need to do them this week - at least one of them, but I just can't. The thought of entering those spaces still makes me nervous, tears fall, and I get short of breath. I was never like this before - this is new. The reason, I think, has little to do with the clutter, which while bad is not that bad - an hour or two of hard work in both places would have them straightened and cleaned. It has to do with the memories, and I am just not ready to tackle them yet.
In March, right before I got the call that my husband was going in and things weren't right or normal, the night before the kids and I had emptied the entire game, puzzle, and video cupboard onto the living room floor. The plan was the next day to get all the pieces in the right boxes, eliminate things we didn't need, and straighten up the cupboard. We were excited about it and envisioned the clean space. We had just done two boys bedrooms and were happy with what we had done.
But then that call came that morning. My husband was missing. My friend came over, the kids went out to play in the park quickly before we told them the news, and we sat staring at each other in total shock and pain. My friend asked me what we should do... I said, "well, the team will be headed over this way soon, so let's clean up all those games and stuff". Together, we quietly and quickly threw all the stuff back in the cupboard. It went in messier than it came out, hurriedly with tears. At that point, the pain of the events was so terrible and the fear so overwhelming that I was struggling not to throw up as I jammed things back in the cupboard. Then we shut the door and made tea. Of course, no one did come, and eventually the kids came back so my friend took them to her house, and I was alone in my very clean house. Alone the whole day. I curled up on the kitchen floor in a ball shaking and sat alone in silence waiting for a phone call and unsure if I would ever see my husband again. Of what use was a clean organized beautiful home that we had built together? All I wanted was him.
Then later, after we had told the kids and one of the nights when I was on the phone desperately trying to help the efforts to get him back as well as efforts to keep others safe, I needed some information that was stored in my office. I ran down there at three in the morning and began to frantically flip through boxes and files. I pulled things out, dropped them where they lay, and kept going. In one of those boxes, what fell out was his will and behind it, the life insurance policy that we had got specifically for this sort of situation. I heaved, struggled to regain control, and kept searching. Finally, I found what was needed and walked out of the office.
I have never been back in - well, not more than to throw some more papers in there. I have never opened the game cupboard either.
But I need to. I need my office back. I need to sort papers for the beginning of school. The messy cupboard in my otherwise clean house is bothering me. I need to open those spaces back up and clean them out. But the thought terrifies me. The memory of those very alone, very difficult times scare me. I want a friend to come do it with me, but I feel guilty. It is my mess, my responsibility. I don't need a friend to hold my hand. My friends have enough to do, I don't need to dump my burdens on them. But I am just not sure if I can face those rooms alone. Yet I have to. I have guests coming in nine days, and I need at least my office cleaned out by then.
I don't think it is a hoarding problem. It is a facing those raw fears again. But perhaps if I do, they will go away; they will recede. I hope so. But I know there will be tears shed to walk back in to those times. Flashbacks that I am not sure I am strong enough to handle.
This is where I wanted the help of a friend, but the person I would have asked to help talk me through it is gone and I don't know if they will ever be back.
Do I ask a new friend to walk with me into that fear or do I go it alone? Either way, I need to go in there and begin tomorrow. Pray for me, please.